They hit some posts; we can give them that.
But two nights after the New York Islanders' scoring slump was temporarily broken by some generous goaltending in San Jose, no such puck luck was to come their way in Los Angeles. A 2-1 loss to the Kings felt too familiarly blah in this season that has yet to evoke memories of 2014-15. (Well, unless you thought 2014-15 was a massive failure, in which case you no doubt shout a lot on Twitter and have all the answers.)
John Tavares opened the game by clanging the post to Jhonas Enroth's left, and in crunch time in the third period Johnny Boychuk and Brock Nelson both hit iron in their attempts to find the tying goal, but ultimately the story was familiar: Just one goal, and that's not enough.
Nelson opened scoring on a nice snap shot iin the first period of his second game on the John Tavares line (where Kyle Okposo looked like a UFA you probably don't throw top dollar toward). But the Kings equalized on the power play six minutes later and immediately after a really sketchy call on Calvin de Haan. Milan Lucic -- really? It had to be Lucic? -- got what would end up as the game winner on a a fluke that went in off Johnny Boychuk early in the second, and followed an almost icing that was waved off.
The rest of the game was one of frustration and admittedly good stops by that guy who used to be the backup in Buffalo but might now be the best goalie in L.A. Kudos to Mikhail Grabovski, whose engine hasn't stopped during these tough times -- win or lose -- and who drew both penalties to create the third-period 5-on-3 where Nelson hit iron.
Many personnel, media and fans alike noted afterward that, isolated from the slump, this game would just be "one of those games." Jack Capuano:
"We've just got to stick with it," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "It's a frustrating time [with] the hockey that we're playing. We came into a really good atmosphere here against a good team, and I thought we played pretty well. We had a chance with [about] a minute 5-on-3 and didn't get it done."
Frans Nielsen in Newsday (and Nelson expressed similar sentiments later in the article):
"It's frustrating, but we're finally starting to play better," Frans Nielsen said. "It stinks losing, but if we keep this up, we're going to win a lot of games."
And Arthur Staple's intro of that same article:
Maybe if the Islanders hadn't struggled to score goals for a two-week stretch recently, Thursday night's 2-1 loss to the Kings wouldn't sting as much.
Which, honestly, to these eyes rings true. They've been better the last few games. They outshot the Kings 12-4 in the third and it could have gone either way -- particularly if any one of those bounces on Lucic's goal had gone differently. The top line got lots of minutes while the vaunted and sometimes overused fourth line clocked in at around 10:00.
But they're in a very tough division where their chief competitors collected regulation wins Thursday night. So keep the chin up, etc., but we'll need results soon.
Like, Friday in Anaheim would be cool.